Since I was shut out with buying autograph vouchers I came to FanFest needing to put in some work to make a dent in my needs. I was able to get up early enough to earn one of the 250 spots to the free signing. I was guaranteed autographs of Nick Markakis, Bud Norris and Jemile Weeks. After the signing I positioned myself near the stage to try and get some autographs.
At last years FanFest, being close to the stage was good for hounding. You could see in multiple directions and knew players would be coming to the stage. This year had a different design, that called for a different plan. Jay (J-Orioles on sportsgraphing) posted up in the middle of the arena and was perfect. As players crossed from one event to another they had to pass us. When they went upstairs to get away from the arena floor, they had to pass us. When they came back down, they had to pass us. We had so many opportunities to get autographs and with a little persistence, I did just that.
Steve Clevenger 2013 Bowman #12
Overall I was able to cross two names off the current list, Steve Clevenger was one of them. I will eventually need to upgrade to a Postcard or Orioles issue if that ever happens but was happy to cross this name off. I only saw Steve once throughout the entire event and once was all that I needed. He was gracious and pleasant as he disregarded his handlers demands to keep walking.
Henry Urrutia 2013 Bowman #8
Henry was the second player I was able to cross off my list. I got a tip that he was participating in a baseball clinic with Dave Johnson and went to check it out. There were a ton of people standing around but no one really looking for autographs. I was one of a few guys to get Henry here and seemed to be one of the lucky ones. He was interactive and friendly at the beginning of the day, but once his girlfriend showed, he never stopped. All he did was hold her hand, but I got mine so I was very happy.
Tim Berry Baltimore Autograph Card
The only food I ate during the entire day was a bag of Crab Chips and some Powerade. I bring that up because on my way back from my snack I saw Tim Berry dong a clinic. He seemed disinterested during the clinic but was nice enough to sign for me.
Berry spent all of 2013 in Frederick posting good numbers as a starter. Being a left handed arm throwing in the 90MPH range should facilitate rapid advancement, if he continues to perform well.
Kelvin De La Cruz Baltimore Autograph Card
Another lefty that may make his debut with the Orioles this year is De La Cruz. He spent six seasons in the Cleveland Indians organization but never cracked the big league roster. He was used only as a starter until last year, where he was exclusively coming from the pen. A 6'5" lefty coul create matchup problems.
His height made him easy to spot walking through the event and he signed for me twice, only because I only had two items. First is this Autograph Card and there is a Bowman card still to come.
Liam Hendriks Baltimore Autograph Card
I attempted to get Liam coming and going from the main stage when he participated in a new player forum. He denied me each time because he had an aggressive handler. Later in the day he was walking with his wife and was in a different mood. He stopped and signed for those who asked. His wife was a big fan of the Autograph Card I gave him to sign and we chatted about the hobby for a few minutes. Predominantly a starter, I am not sure the role Liam will play with the team this year.
Chris Jones Baltimore Autograph Card
Chris Jones passed by a couple of time and I couldn't place him. Eventually, someone in the know pointed him out and he was gracious enough to sign. Jones had been a solid minor league pitcher for the Indians and the Braves before coming to the Orioles last year. Like countless others he will be vying for a spot in our bullpen this year.
Johnny Monell Baltimore Autograph Card
I am not usre how this signature reads Johnny Monell, but there are a lot of things I don't know. Monell, Michael Ohlman and Clevenger will all by jockeying to backup Matt Wieters this season. And if this is indeed Matt's final season in town, it would be nice to know if there is a quality replacement in the system.
Cord Phelps Baltimore Autograph Card
Phelps was the only player I approached with no knowledge of who he was. Having the custom card makes this possible, but I typically avoid it. Not a single one of us recognized him, so I can say I did it for everyone else. It also allowed me to get him on a minor league card later that day.
With Brian Roberts in pinstripes and fringe major league players in front of him, Phelps looks to take a shot at the second base job. He has three years of big league experience with the Indians with little results. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.
Brad Brach 2012 Topps #637
Brach was the first player I tracked down after the free session, with a little help from Austin. He is another arm that the Orioles have brought in to try and sure up their bullpen. He has had a few good seasons in San Diego so hopefully the A.L. is kind to him. I am looking into getting an Orioles postcard signed so if anyone's got one let me know.
David Lough 2013 Topps Emerald #268
Dan Duquette said that he believes Lough can be a better fit in left field than the newly departed Nate McLouth. More pop and a better arm but with less speed. Again another question mark, like every move they have made this off-season. He was a really nice guy and signed for me twice throughout the event.
MIchael Ohlman 2010 Topps Debut #100
Ohlman was very agreeable and pushed his handler aside to sign autographs for anyone that asked. He was also very easy to pick out walking through the Convention Center. I am hoping he has an opportunity to prove himself this season. If Wieters does in fact leave, there needs to be someone to fill his void. Could Ohlman be the guy?
Ryan Webb 2012 Topps Update #253
Keeping with the trend of bringing in relievers to try and fill a void, I give you Ryan Webb. It remains to be seen if Webb, Tommy Hunter or Darren O'Day would take the closer spot this season. I actually have faith in all three of those options.
Jemile Weeks 2014 Orioles Postcard
Jemile was one of the three signers at the free station and couldn't have been nicer. He was eager to interact with us fans and was willing to sign more than one autograph at the table. He is easily recognizable so he was an easy player to spot on the convention floor. But he never signed while walking around. He said the team told him not to sign and being new, he wanted to do as he was told. He seemed sincere so it didn't feel like a brush off. I
Great job on scoring all those autographs. I always wished the Yankees would have continued with their Fan Fest, but the last one was a total nightmare with all the fans that attended.ReplyDelete